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Wat Mahatat in Nakhon Si Thammarat

Michael Babcock, Sunday, July 3rd, 2011

Thailand is predominantly a Buddhist country and throughout the country there are numerous temples – wat, in Thai. One of my favorite temples is Wat Mahatat in Nakhon Si Thammarat. This temple is considered one of the three most important temples in the south of Thailand, the others being in Chaiya and Yala. A morning visit here is part the itinerary for Kasma’s Kasma’s trips to southern Thailand.

View of Temple

View of chedi

Its full name is Wat Phra Mahatat Woramahawihaan, sometimes abbreviated to Wat Phra Boromathat. It is found a couple kilometers from the town center on Thanon Ratchadamnoen, the long street that runs the length of the town, and is easily reached by songthaew.

This is the biggest temple in the south of Thailand. The most recognizable feature is the nearly 80 meter high chedi (stupa), which is crowned by a spire made of solid gold and weighing several hundred kilograms. The main chedi is surrounded numerous smaller black and white chedis. To the right of the chedi there’s an entrance to a sanctuary. In the middle is a stairway leading up to a platform about half-way up the chedi; this stairway is open only some of the time. The stairway is flanked by demons, apparently guarding the way. At either end of the room there are walls with interesting bas-relief on the walls.

Buddha Statues

Buddha Statues

Off to the left as you head towards the central sanctuary is a wihaan or Buddha image sanctuary. In the shape of a square, it has Buddha images on the outside around the square; there’s also an inner walkway with more Buddha images.

After you’ve visited the temple, be sure to go to the market area at the far end of the temple – they have some interesting southern crafts and snacks.

Rather than spend more time on description, I’ve put together a slide show to show some of the beautiful images found here. Photographs were taken by both myself and Kasma.


Nakhon Si Thammarat – Wat Mahatat Slide Show

Click on “Play” below to begin a slideshow.
Clicking on a slide will take you to the next image.

You must have Javascript enabled to see the images.

View of Temple 1
View of the Temple 2
Entrance to Chedi
Sign Towards Wihaan
Thai Monks
Buddha Statue in Niche
Temple Roof
Temple Roof
Temple Guardian 2
Temple Guardian 1
Temple Bas-relief
Temple Detail
Buddha in Niche
Close-up of Buddha Statue
Temple Bells
Walkway with Buddha Statues
More Walkway
Inner Walkway
Temple Gong
Buddha Statue 1
Buddha Head
Temple Feature
Earth Mother Goddess
Temple Painting
Buddha Head 2
Buddha Head 2 Earlier
Buddha Image
Buddha Close-up
Buddha Close-up 2
Little Demon
Buddha from the Back
Elephant
Another Buddha
Buddha Statues

Here's a view of the chedi, which is above the main sanctuary
and several other buildings housing Buddha images

The chedi is in the right-hand corner in this view from the parking lot

The door at the end is the entrance to the chedi

Before reaching the entrance to the chedi at the end, turn
at the blue sign to enter the wihaan of Buddha statues

In 2007 we came across these novice monks leaving the area by the chedi

There are numerous interesting details in the
buildings around the entrance to the chedi

Don't forget to look up at the details around the roofs of the buildings

A view of one of the temple roofs, with its golden nagas

This demon guards the staircase leading up to the chedi

This demon and dragon guard the other side of the staircase

In the sala leading up to the chedi there are two
walls with golden bas-relief (to the right, here)

Here's a detail of the bas-relief

This is the Buddha statue at the end of one side with the bas-relief

Here's a close-up of the same statue

When the staircase is open you can go to a walkway around
the chedi, about halfway up - these bells are taken from there

This is the outer walkway in the wihaan off the entrance to
the chedi - it is lined with Buddha statues

Here's another view of the outer walkway, which has a mysterious, quiet feel to it

There's also an inner walkway, also lined with Buddha statues

At one end of this walkway is this huge gong - if you rub the
center in just the right way it makes a deep, resonant sound

One of the Buddha statues on the outer walkway

Cose-up of another Buddha statue in the outer walkway

This pillar is found at one of the corners of the outer walkway -
it shows the Buddha at the time of his enlightenment

Close-up of the statue of the Earth Mother Goddess, witnessing
the Buddha's enlightenment, from the previous image

Paintings such is this one adorn some pillars in the outer walkway

Close-up of one of the Buddha statues - painted gold and black

Here's the same statue in 2004 - before it was painted (see previous slide) -
like everything else, the Buddha statues are in a constant state of change

Here's one of the Buddha statues found on the inner
walkway, where they often are standing in a red alcove

Close-up of a Buddha in the inner walkway

Here's the same statue 4 years earlier - before restoration

Close-up (of a demon) shows some of the detail on the inner walkway alcoves

An outer walkway Buddha photographed from the inner walkway

The inner walkway has several of these elephants - the entire inner wall
has been wrapped by orange fabric, the same color worn by the monks

An outer walkway Buddha in a very different style

One last image showing several of the Buddha statues

View of Temple 1 thumbnail
View of Temple 2 thumbnail
Entrance to Chedi thumbnail
Sign Towards Wihaan thumbnail
Thai Monks thumbnail
Buddha Statue in Niche thumbnail
Temple Roof thumbnail
Temple Roof thumbnail
Temple Guardian 2 thumbnail
Temple Guardian 1 thumbnail
Temple Bas-relief thumbnail
Temple Detail thumbnail
Buddha in Niche thumbnail
Close-up of Buddha Statue thumbnail
Temple Bells thumbnail
Walkway with Buddha Statues thumbnail
More Walkway thumbnail
Inner Walkway thumbnail
Temple Gong thumbnail
Buddha Statue 1 thumbnail
Buddha Head thumbnail
Temple Feature thumbnail
Earth Mother Goddess thumbnail
Temple Painting thumbnail
Buddha Head 2 thumbnail
Buddha Head 2 Earlier thumbnail
Buddha Image thumbnail
Buddha Close-up thumbnail
Buddha Close-up 2 thumbnail
Little Demon thumbnail
Buddha from the Back thumbnail
Elephant thumbnail
Another Buddha thumbnail
Buddha Statues thumbnail

Wednesday Photos of Wat Mahatat

Previous Blogs on Nakhon Si Thammarat

  • Krua Nakhon Restaurant
  • Nakhon Si Thammarat Municipal Market
  • Written by Michael Babcock, July 2011

    Nakhon Si Thammarat Temple (Wednesday Photo)

    Michael Babcock, Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

    Wat Mahatat

    Temple Grounds

    Wat Mahatat Temple grounds

    Here’s a picture of the main chedi (stupa) at Wat Mahatat in Nakhon si Thamarrat, in the South of Thailand. It’s one of my favorite temples in Thailand. As you head toward the chedi, to the left is an entrance to a building with a large number of Buddha statues around a courtyard – well worth a look.

    Here are two pictures of Buddha statues found at this temple:


    The Wednesday Photo is a new picture each week highlighting something of interest in Thailand. Click on the picture to see a larger version.


    Note: This will be our last Wednesday Photo post for awhile. We may start them up again sometime in the spring.

    Temple Detail (Wednesday Photo)

    Michael Babcock, Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

    Chiang Mai Temple Detail

    Temple Detail

    Temple detail

    This is a photo of an intricate decoration on a temple in Chiang Mai.

    I enjoy the temples of Thailand. From a distance they are often quite gaudy as the outer walls are often covered with ceramic tiles and gold leaf. Whenever I visit a temple I like to pay close attention to what is on the walls. I like this intricate little beast on the outside of a temple in Chiang Mai.


    The Wednesday Photo is a new picture each week highlighting something of interest in Thailand. Click on the picture to see a larger version.

    Earth Mother Goddess, Doi Suthep (Wednesday Photo)

    Michael Babcock, Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

    Earth Mother Goddess, Doi Suthep

    Earth Mother Goddess

    Earth Mother Goddess Mural at Doi Suthep

    This mural of the Earth Mother Goddess is found at one of my favorite temples in Thailand – Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai (see Doi Suthep Buddha). You may recall the statue of the Earth Mother Goddess, Ubon Ratchathani from last December. This mural is found in one of the temples at Doi Suthep. I’ve related the story of the picture in my previous post: the short version is that as the Earth Mother Goddess bore witness to the Buddha’s enlightenment, she wrung the water from her hair and the flood swept all the illusions (personified by Mara) away.


    The Wednesday Photo is a new picture each week highlighting something of interest in Thailand. Click on the picture to see a larger version.

    Chaiya Buddha – 2 (Wednesday Photo)

    Michael Babcock, Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

    Another Chaiya Buddha

    Chaiya Buddha Image

    Chaiya buddha image

    I love the serenity of this statue, found in the courtyard of Wat Phra Boram That in Chaiya, Thailand. Each temple in Thailand has many Buddha images. It’s fascinating to see how some of them evoke an emotional response while others evoke nothing.

    There was a time when all of the statues at this temple were quite weathered and plain. Then one year, as the temple restored the various images, they transformed into gold, black and mother-of-pearl (for the eyes). At first I was very unhappy because there had been something very calming about all the statues, transformed as they were by time and the elements. Then I realized it was about the fact that everything is always changing and that if we try to grasp at something conditioned, expecting it to always remain the same, we will be unhappy, we will suffer.

    Now, several years later, the once-pristine and restored Buddha images are beginning to age and transform again with time and the elements.


    The Wednesday Photo is a new picture each week highlighting something of interest in Thailand. Click on the picture to see a larger version.

    Temple Roof (Wednesday Photo)

    Michael Babcock, Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

    Temple Roof, Nakhon Si Thammarat

    Temple roof

    Temple roof, Nakhon Si Thammarat

    This should be a familiar sight to anyone who’s travelled in Thailand and visited a temple: the edge of the tiled roof, protected by a Naga. I particularly love the colored tiles and molding set off against the very blue sky.


    The Wednesday Photo is a new picture  each week highlighting something of interest in Thailand. Click on the picture to see a larger version.